Law enforcement, especially through the activities of police forces, has a crucial but largely unacknowledged role in the protection and promotion of the public health. While police are key partners in many specific public health programs, their identity as an important part of the public health endeavour is rarely recognised. This means that there is a generally an inadequate approach to research and investigation of ways in which law enforcement, especially police, can be most effectively engaged and be most effective in carrying out their public health role.
Public health is an active partner in crime prevention as well. For example, the provision of mental health and alcohol and other drugs treatment, and primary and secondary prevention interventions are major components of a multi-sectoral approach to ameliorating the impact of complex social issues. Police do not necessarily identify as public health players, nor do they generally identify the public health partnership as important to their objectives. Public health far too infrequently studies the partnership and learns how to improve it.
The intersection of law enforcement and public health
The intersection of law enforcement (especially police) and public health is diverse, covering the widest range of public health issues; longstanding, with an evolving history of collaborations; critically important, with many issues requiring the inter-sectoral approach; and inadequately recognised, understood and resourced.
There are multiple points where law enforcement intersects with public health, and where local government often plays a key enabling role. These intersections include:
Read more about the Issues